"You know what tomorrow is?" I said to Billy last night, curling around his body in bed.
"Yes." He kept his eyes on the TV screen, a tiny smile peeking out of the corners of his mouth.
"What is it?" I prodded, my eyes glued to his face.
He sighed and closed his eyes as if to say Are you seriously going to put me through this again? "I know what it is."
"I know you know. But I want to hear you say it."
"Can't you just trust that I know?"
"I do trust that you know. You always know. I just want to hear you say it."
"Because that's what we do. It's our tradition. Every month, I say 'Do you know what tomorrow is?' and you say 'Yes,' and I say 'What is it?' and you say what it is, and then I say 'Can you believe it's been that long?!' That's what we do every month. So. I'll do my part," I said, pointing to myself, "and you do yours," I poked him in the chest. "Ready? Here goes.... Babe, do you know what tomorrow is?"
He rolled his eyes at me, but couldn't keep from laughing. I knew then that he wouldn't be playing along. Just because I was telling him to. He'd keep his mouth shut on principle.
We'd had such an ordinary day. Our quiet Sunday was capped off with a trip to Lowes. We stood in the paint section and scrutinized all of the different paint rollers there, wondering which one Billy should get to finish painting the downstairs. We were trying to decide if it was worth the extra few bucks for the fancy-pants rollers, when I looked down the aisle and saw where were located within the store. My eyes widened. As he chucked a pack of rollers in the cart, I threaded my arm through his. "Baby, look where we are," I said, innocently, extending my arm so that he could follow my gaze. "Appliances!"
"Aaah-ha. I see. Does that mean you're going to steer me in the direction of the dryers?"
"Yes. Yes it does."
The dryer at home has been on the fritz for weeks, sometimes just deciding that it doesn't feel like turning off. Which means that I can not just throw clothes in there and leave the house. I have to stay around and babysit the dryer to keep from, you know, burning down the house. I'd been waiting for the opportunity to have him captive in a Home Improvement store: I figured I'd have to beg a little bit, perhaps grovel. But, one way or another, I needed a new dryer. This was my chance.
We surveyed the rows of crisp white appliances, making our way to the cheap ones. I lead him all the way to the end, to the cheapest, most basic dryer Lowes had to offer. "This is fine," I said enthusiastically. "I don't need bells and whistles. I just need something that will both dry our clothes, and stop when it's supposed to."
But he abandoned the cheapie for one a few steps up - With a bigger capacity for our King comforter, and more heat options. "What do you think of this one?" He opened the front door, stuck his head inside. "This one's nice."
"Baby, whichever one you think. I don't care what it's like."
"I like this one."
"Okay then. Where's the guy?" And with that, he went off in search of a Lowes employee who could sell us the thing. That was it. Suddenly, we had a new dryer.
Years ago, I used to complain about going into the home improvement stores with my then-boyfriend. My coworker back then told me "When it's your house, you'll feel different. You'll actually enjoy it." And there I was yesterday, kissing my boyfriend all over his face because he had just purchased a dryer so that I could more efficiently handle our laundry. I guess my coworker was right. It may not be my house, but I live there. And suddenly the appliances and the color of the walls have become important to me. Lowes doesn't seem so bad at all.
I felt like we were a real, serious couple just then. Standing there, looking at the Energy Guides and Suggestions for Purchasing Your Dryer. Something about the purchase of a major home appliance lent a sense of commitment to us. Only adults purchase home appliances together. That must mean we're adults. And we're together. Oh my God; This is for real.
But it wasn't just about the dryer itself; the buttons or the options or its pricetag. It was about me needing something and him being there for me. It was about making things easier for me in the house. It was about him involving me in the selection, making me feel a part of it. Like my opinion counts in the selection of our dryer.
After a quick stop at McDonald's (where I bought him a milkshake as a thank you), we went home and rented Shopgirl, On Demand. Settling in to bed to watch the movie, I couldn't contain how close to him I felt.
The movie was about a budding relationship, causing me to relive all of our firsts: Our first sleepover, the first time he signed a card "Love," our first-date nerves. I was all nostalgia and butterflies. I was just so full of feeling that I didn't even care that he was refusing to say, out loud, what tomorrow was.
So I went ahead and said it for him. "Ten months, baby. Can you believe it?"
He indulged me. "No, baby, I can't believe it." And he hugged me to him.
I let him wrap me up, my smile pressing into his chest. I closed my eyes, thinking we've finally hit that stride. The one where I feel like a real couple, no longer just a trial of what we could be like.
Because only real couples buy dryers together.